Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi Welcomes David Cameron's Call For Suspension Of Sanctions

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DAVID CAMERON AUNG SAN SUU KYI
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today welcomed David Cameron's call for the suspension of sanctions against her country | PA

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today welcomed David Cameron's call for the suspension of sanctions against her country after they held face-to-face talks in Rangoon.

Making a historic visit to the former British colony, the prime minister insisted that moves towards democratic reform should be rewarded.

He was standing alongside the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in the garden of the lakeside villa where she spent 15 years under house arrest.

"I think it is right to suspend sanctions that there are against Burma," he said.

"To suspend them, not to lift them."

Cameron continued: "(Burma) shouldn't be as poor as it is, it shouldn't have suffered under dictatorship for as long as it has and things don't have to be that way.

"There is the real prospect of change and I'm very much committed to working with you in trying to help make sure that your country makes those changes.

"I met with President Thien Sein today and there are prospects for change in Burma and I think it is right for the rest of the world to respond to those changes.

"Of course we must respond with care, we must always be sceptical and questioning because we want to know those changes are irreversible, but as we have discussed, I think it is right to suspend the sanctions that there are against Burma - to suspend them, not to lift them - and obviously not to include the arms embargo.

"I do think it is important to send a signal that we want to help see the changes that can bring the growth of freedom of human rights and democracy in your country."

Cameron added: "We are committed to Burma, a friend to Burma, we want to see your country succeed."

"You have struggled and suffered for too long."

Democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi said: "We still have a long way to go but we believe we can get there.

"I believe President Thien Sein is genuine about democratic reforms and I am very happy that prime minister Cameron thinks that the suspension of sanctions is the right way to respond to this.

"I support the suspension, rather than the lifting, of sanctions because this would be an acknowledgement of the role of the president and other reformers.

"This suspension will have taken place because of the steps taken by the president and other reformers.

"It would also make it quite clear to those who are against reform that should they try to obstruct the way of the reformers, then sanctions could come back."

Suu Kyi paid tribute to the "help friends have given us over these last decades, especially Britain and other very close friends".

She added: "They have always understood our need for democracy, our desire to take our place in the world and the aspirations of our people.

"We have always shared the belief that what is necessary for Burma is an end to all ethnic conflict, respect for human rights - which would include the release of political prisoners - and the kind of development aid which would help empower our people and take our country further towards the road to genuine democracy."

Cameron also revealed he had invited Suu Kyi to visit Britain in June.

Had she attempted to leave Burma in previous years, she knew she would have been prevented from returning.

Answering press questions today, she said: "Two years ago, I would have said thank you for the invitation but sorry.

"Now I am able to say perhaps. That is great progress."

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